After his family is killed by a Serbian gangster with international interests, NYC detective Nick goes to S.E. Asia and teams up with a Thai detective to get revenge and destroy the syndicates human trafficking network.
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Nick, a tough NY cop, runs afoul of the Russian mob engaged in human trafficking, and they end up killing his wife and daughter for revenge. Determined to make them pay, he follows the kingpin to Bangkok, the hub of their activities. He teams up with a Thai detective and they decide to wipe out the entire organization and terminate their business entirely. Written by
Dolph is back with a bang in this superior, conscientious action thriller
STAR RATING: ***** Saturday Night **** Friday Night *** Friday Morning ** Sunday Night * Monday Morning
Nick (Dolph Lundgren) is assigned to a task force, dedicated to stamping out human trafficking networks, and his latest assignment involves one run by Russian mobster Viktor (Ron Perlman.) During a shoot out, Nick shoots Viktor's son dead, making him a marked man. When his family are killed in retaliation, Nick goes on an international manhunt for Viktor seeking revenge, taking him all the way to the East, where he crosses paths with Vitayakul (Tony Jaa), a similarly unorthodox cop who thinks Nick killed his partner and wants revenge. Nick must convince him of the truth and bring them together to track down the real criminals.
Having enjoyed a little more publicity than your average Dolph Lundgren action vehicle (including Dolph's notable live IMDb chat with fans!) Skin Trade does indeed have slicker production values and has more hype surrounding it's release than usual. With a lively supporting cast, including Perlman, Michael Jai White, Peter Weller and Cary Hiroyuki-Tagawa, and a timely, relevant social message at it's core, it's far from a perfect offering, but it's a huge cut above what you'd usually get.
The film matches the dark, heavy themes of it's story (murder, revenge and betrayal) with an equally raw, unflinching delivery of it's action, with it's lead stars going at it hammer and tongs in a collection of brutal, hard hitting martial arts showdowns and action sequences (including a bike chase sequences down the back passages of an Asian market!) While the story's heavy themes are matched by it's clichés, it's no less solid and effective, shining a light on a modern day blight on our world in the shape of human trafficking. It's all the more impressive from Dolph, who may be on the wrong side of fifty now, but is no less a convincing action presence. Likewise, Perlman (a.k.a. Hellboy!) is an impressive villain, with a fine Russian accent. But, leaping and flying around with deranged determination, it's Jaa again who steals the show, the martial arts dynamo simply mesmerizing doing what he does.
It's a touch clichéd, and the story doesn't quite flow with the lucidity to make it great, but it's still a superior, explosive thriller with a social heart. ****
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